Gov’t Cuts Back Moratorium On Transporting Old Timber

A government-imposed moratorium on transporting logs has been partially reversed following an agreement made with international donors and the government, officials said earlier this month.

“That was the agreement be­tween the government and all the donors,” said World Bank country representative Nisha Agrawal.

The agreement was made last month during the Consultative Group meeting and applies to logs that were cut before the moratorium was imposed in De­cember 2001 and for which companies have paid royalties to the government.

“From a resource point of view, [those logs] can be used,” said Bob Tennent, forestry project manager for government forestry monitor Societe Generale de Surveillance.

Tennent said not only were some of the logs still salvageable, but if the donors had not ap­proved the move, the companies may have demanded the royalties back.

Following the moratorium, the Forestry Administration catalogued the logs that had been cut and could not be transported. Ten­nent said companies have resubmitted up-to-date listings, and SGS was confirming the numbers with random checks on 10 percent of the list. He said there were 6,208 logs—about 20,000 square meters of timber—listed.

He said most of the companies have been accurate with their assessments, but in a few cases the numbers were off.

Tennent said the companies are now preparing strategies on when and how they will move the old logs. The strategies will be reviewed and approved before any timber is moved.

He said SGS will monitor all transport operations—which should take about two months—to ensure only the approved logs are moved.

The donors are overseeing the entire process but the government is responsible for organizing the move, said Mogens Lau­mand Christensen, resident representative for the Danish aid agency Danida and donor coordinator for the forest sector.

“The government has to indicate what they want to do and how they plan to do it,” he said.

But Mike Davis of environmental watchdog Global Witness lambasted the government and do­nors because the ban was originally intended to force logging companies to take the government’s stance against illegal cutting seriously.

“This is quite a step backwards for donors and Cambodia,” he said. “This is extremely short-sighted. It takes away a point of leverage.”


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